Find a Writer that Speaks Your Language

Many of the best books that I have worked on over the years have had a ghost writer.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing on a professional writer to help you to repair or write your book from scratch. I have always believed that if you’re not a “natural” scribe, then bringing someone on board to help transform your idea into a reality makes perfect sense.

Worried business manI am also of the school of thought that it is best to hire a writer at the beginning of the process—not in the middle or the end. I learned this lesson the hard way.  Once a project goes off the wheels, it is a difficult task to get it back on track. Starting out with the correct writer gives you the best chance of success—and will help you to complete the job much faster than if you have to find a “book doctor” months down the road (I have worked on scores of books at all points of completion and have produced the best books when facing  blank pages at the project’s birth).

Once you establish the point that you need a ghost writer, it is best to find someone who speaks in your tongue. An example: when I worked at Portfolio (Penguin), I signed an author who told me he decided to publish with us because I spoke the language of finance/investing. That worked out very well, as it allowed us to collaborate much more closely than would have been possible with the publisher he eschewed in favor of us. That book ultimately garnered incredible reviews and sold close to 100,000 copies.

History and experience are the keys to finding the right author.  I have been investing in the stock market since I was 13, and held the title of Publisher of Investing and Finance unit when at McGraw-Hill. It was at McGraw that I worked with investment titans Jack Bogle, Jeremy Siegel and Charlie Ellis.

So if you are writing a management book, make sure that the writer speaks management, a finance book needs someone who knows investing, and so on. You may have to pay more for the right author, but this is not the place to be stingy. Good business authors are in very short supply; that is why they are expensive, and exceptional authors even more so. But remember, this is a book that has your good name on it—one that you will have to live with for many years to come.


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